Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Dear Reader,

Welcome to another blog of mine. If you’re a returning reader, I apologise for my absence – my brain hasn’t exactly been clear lately. If you’re new, well you’ve come along at an interesting crossroad. It’s a lot of words, and I’ve written and re-written this many times, so I’m deciding to just post it in it’s current state. Here ya go…

Why I’m Leaving London After Four Years

Today’s blog is brought to you by a big decision I made a few weeks ago, and one I’ve had difficulty making for over a year: leaving London. I moved to London when I was eighteen, and ready for an adventure of self-discovery and risks. The last few years have been nothing short of that; I’ve met people who will stay friends for the remainder of my life, I’ve explored cultures, cities & countries, whilst furthered myself through skill and awareness. I know I know, all of the classic & cliché things, but it’s true and I am not lying when I say this city has changed me as a person for the better.

I love London, and it is one of the best places to live in the world – I say that wholeheartedly – however, London is not an easy place to live. It’s a city where unless you are lucky enough to find a job which douses your bank account, it can be very much a situation of living pay check to pay check. It’s a city of competition, and entitlement. It’s fast-paced, and unless you can keep up with it, you can feel left behind.

I wasn’t one of these ‘unlucky’ ones; I like to think I have thrived here. And this isn’t in a “look at me” way, it’s in a way of pride. I got a good job, I worked hard and in result got promoted twice. I now have incredible friends who have given my life excitement and memories of a lifetime. I improved my living situation with every move. All of this, and having never worried about money, makes me proud of myself and everything I have achieved here.

So, if all was going well, what changed my mind about living here?

Well, if I’m completely honest, I became unhappy. Ultimately this is what I wanted to get down in this blog. This website has followed my entire London journey (my very first blog being about my first day here), through the ups and downs, and this process doesn’t stop with my decision to leave.

There was never one thing which caused the unhappiness, but I knew in my heart of hearts, there was something wrong. It stuck around, constantly underneath the sporadic smiles and dance parties, never really going away. It was a feeling I don’t want to label, because it’s not about that it, but it was a feeling of lostness. I felt alone, whilst surrounded by a city of 8 million, I felt unsupported from all angles in my life, I felt heavy and held down. It is important to understand that this isn’t directed at anyone, because I truly believe it was my body telling me I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and not the byproduct of something in my life.

It is a scary thing to realise your “home” has detrimental effects on your mental state.

From the moment I set foot on English soil, I’ve been announcing to the world I would never leave – London was my new home. I absolutely wasn’t about to be one of those people who came to the UK, or Europe, for 6 months only to give up and go back to the little ol’ home town. I think this is partly why I’ve struggled so much the last several months, because for years I’ve been subconsciously telling myself I would be a failure if I even considered moving home. Insert another lovely feeling: of being trapped.

I started making plans to rid this unhappiness; plans to make changes to my work situation, my living situation; I had decided I was going to convert a Sprinter van and join the #VanLife movement. I was going to travel Europe whilst writing, combining two of my favourite things. I was convinced that my life was just missing some freedom. I became excited, I started telling people and I was happy because people were excited about the idea. I thought “Yes, this is the answer”.

A week passed, and that feeling in the pit of my stomach started crawling back up to my throat. Back to square one. I knew deep down this wasn’t the solution.

Then some suggested an idea that I couldn’t shake. Moving home. I sat on it, and after a week it still felt like it may be a good idea. After two weeks, I had my flight booked, my resignation submitted, and I felt like a weight had been lifted. It was the first time in months I could wake up and not feel heavy.

Since making this decision, it hasn’t been smooth sailing. It’s been an emotional adventure coming to terms with leaving this life behind. But after a chat with one of my best-friends I have been reminded this isn’t leaving anything behind, and moving to New Zealand isn’t a step backwards towards my old life, it’s a step forward. It’s simply change; a new chapter.

I will not say ‘I am moving back’, because that implies I’m going backwards. This is me going forward, this is a new chapter in my life. 

London has been a love affair, and it’s something I don’t want to ruin. I’m leaving at a time that is right for me, and for my writing, and I’m excited about that. Being a creative in London is also something I wanted to discuss. You can feel like you’re failing yourself and your art if you take time off from it. London adds this pressure, and it’s hard to ignore. Acting, writing, dancing, singing – if it’s your passion – shouldn’t be pressured, and/or done for the sake of trying to keep up to be successful.

I’m excited to go to New Zealand and find new inspirations in my writing, to further my life, to build a future, to be surrounded by family, to enjoy the things that I love – the ocean, nature, the quiet and calm, living a more organic lifestyle.

My goal now? To enjoy every second I have being based in London. I am creating a project called #100WaysToSayGoodbye – the last 100 days, every day with something new, simple, weird or exciting.

I apologise because this blog is less for you, and more for me, with lots (and lots) of words. But if you’ve read to the end, I guess throughout this decision to move home I’ve learnt the importance of putting myself, and my health, first. Even though I still can’t understand why I feel London isn’t right for me anymore, I’ve listened to myself and I know this is the right thing to do.

I will miss you London, I will miss you my London friends, but I am happy because I know I will see you again.

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Friends in the city & saying goodbye

There’s something so unique about living in a city like this one. London is huge, it’s a place where people from all over the world interconnect and flourish. I’ve been in London for almost 3 years and whilst being here, I’ve made many friends and have had to say goodbye to almost all of them.

I wanted to write a blog about this. Making friends in a city and saying goodbye. I do often ask myself why I get so upset – saying goodbye to friends, tears streaming down my face, internally asking myself why are you like this?!. Asking why my body involuntarily gets so worked up about saying goodbye to people, when I knew I would have to say goodbye to them eventually. It’s a city of adventurous and aspiring people after all.

I sat and I really thought about.

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When you move out of home, or across the world like me, the friends you make become your family. Your friends become the support network that is there when you’re crying out of stress, or crying because you can’t stop laughing. They’re there when you’ve got exciting news you want to share, they’re there dancing alongside you at gigs, they’re there when you just want someone to join you for a coffee. So naturally, losing these people, this support network, is never going to be easy.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

A city life promotes a different type of friendship, well certainly different to the friendships I ever had in New Zealand. The friends I make tend to live a short distance away, and this is what I love most. The making of spontaneous plans, popping around to see a friend, meeting for lunch or coffee, even just having a drink at the pub after work together. London is all about the sociable life. So when this lifestyle changes, such as a friend leaving, it’s hard to feel okay about it – because one small difference can affect your daily life so much. We don’t tend to deal with unwanted change too well, and we do become sad. We all do. I’ve had my closest friends fly home, and I have had my closest of English friends move out of London – it’s the same, and in my head it’s the drama of the century.  I enjoy having my closest friends …well, close.

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I moved to London on my own.

I was an 18 year old from New Zealand, who arrived and knew absolutely nobody. To be quite honest with you, the first few nights in London, I was terrified. Terrified that nobody would like me, and terrified that I would make no friends. And then I moved into my first flat. I arrived as the outsider, and by the end of the first week, I was out celebrating my 19th birthday surrounded by people. Now, all of those people I met in my first months, I would be lucky to see anyone of them once a year. It was a gradual thing – I moved flat, made new friends, my old friends moved, I moved flat again, made new friends, so on, so on. It became an expectation to say goodbye, or at least ‘see you later’.

The knowledge of my own need for progression, allowed me to accept saying goodbye to others. Half the time, as I’m standing there with tears streaming down my cheeks as I say goodbye, I am happy; I am excited for my friends to move on to greater adventures. I’ve been that person my whole life, and I know that feeling of having to move on. We all live our lives with the aspiration of progress, and we all have to be selfish sometimes.


I was at the top of St. Paul’s with a friend one day. We were looking down at the thousands of people below us, and then, he said:

“Isn’t it amazing how amongst all those people, with different lives and different stories, we meet people with similar interests and form friendships.”

Yes, it is amazing. Making friends in a city of 8 million people may seem like a given, but it’s not as easy as that. Everything happens for a reason, and people come into our lives as we need them. Even though saying goodbye is hard, the most important thing to remember is that life will always endure a bit of mileage.

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Travel Log: Copenhagen

Monday 6:50

With an early start this morning, I ventured out into the crisp morning air. The only sound coming from birds – a fresh perspective on a city life.  Today I am off to Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s a city I’ve never been to, yet experienced vicariously through those having borrowed my guide book. I’m currently sat in a café in Gatwick Airport waiting for my avocado on toast; one of very few vegan options I could find. I’m surprisingly awake for having woken up at 4am, perhaps it’s the excitement of spending the rest of my day in a new city.  Or perhaps it’s the 4-shot Soya cappuccino I just finished. This trip is very unplanned for me; I got my Danish krone at the airport, I have no idea how I’m getting from Copenhagen airport to the hostel, nor what my plan is for the return home tomorrow. I suppose time will tell.

10:18

I must be more than halfway to Copenhagen by now. The sky is the clearest of blue, allowing the sun to glisten perhaps too brightly off the plane’s wing through my window. I somehow always get a window seat, and I couldn’t complain less. It’s an interesting thing to be so close to nothing; so far away from everything you’re used to being near. Buildings insignificant and the rushing lives of those in the streets of London invisible. I feel calm, and I feel un-rushed in my impatient descend on Copenhagen. I’d like to think, as I look out at the world below me, if my plane were to fall that it would be caught in the soft grips of the clouds blanketing the earth.  The clouds – they bring us rain, food for the soil under our feet – they also separate London from the world beyond. We stop looking up after a while because we are so used to seeing the grey barrier above our heads; we get so accustom to looking down at our feet, knowing our direction, our daily path. It’s nice to be above the clouds, to feel as if there is nothing stopping me from seeing new things. I am amongst the unreachable. With the unexpected wifi on board, I feel confident in my plan once I land. I know I will take the metro, a 3-zone ticket bought with either coins or credit card, and I will get off at Hovedbanegården otherwise known as Copenhagen Central Station. From there I will walk to my hostel, check in, and carry on with aimless wandering. According to the flight tracker, we are 24 minutes from Copenhagen. The descend has begun, I am now gently leaning forward with the plane; gravity pulling me towards yet another destination to tick off the map.

17:49

My feet are ready to fall off. I got to Copenhagen Central Station just after midday and spent 20 minutes lapping the perimeter trying to find my hostel; suddenly earning a major appreciation for my Citymapper app in London. I found my hostel and then went back out in search of anything that defines Copenhagen as a city. I still feel near anxious being here. Not because of it’s size or population mass, just the fact of I know nothing about it. I always prepare my holidays, map out places I want to see, where I want to eat, I teach myself the language basics; this time I came in blind. After wandering in the heat and eventually discovering what seemed to be a busy part, I opted for a canal tour. A smooth sail into tourist mode. This was beautiful and somewhat informative. More than anything it gave me my bearings and sites to aim for by foot. The hour tour finished where it began, and so did my ventures. Saw beautiful buildings, did some window shopping, but more so just absorbing everything foreign. I followed it up with more wandering until now – Urban Bar, coffee in hand. As much as I am tired, I am also eager to see more and make the most of this 48-hour trip. I am headed to Tivoli Gardens this evening.

Tuesday 12:36

I am currently located in what seems to be the Danish version of Subway – iBagel. It’s pretty good, eggplant salad topped off with a beautiful dollop of humous (of course). I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to tackle another day of touristing. My first stop had to be food, and eventually I found my desired breakfast destination: 42Raw – a café that has surrendered it’s services to the plant-based community. An acai bowl and my new addiction, The Passage by Justin Cronin, made for a beautiful start to the day. Peaking above the city, reaching for the heavens, are spires scattered around the city. All distinctly different, I’ve been finding them an easier alternative to the maps within my guidebook. As 10:30 came around, I aimed high and true, and climbed 95m up Vol Frelsers Kirke. A beautiful old church which presented me with a stunning view of the city. Since my descend back down to earth, I have wandered; seen the Nationalmuseet, Christiansborg Slot, and Det Kongelige Bibliotek. It’s warm, I’m sun kissed veering burnt, but I feel calm and happy. My flight home to London is at 18:55, and according to the Central Station clock on the opposite of the square it’s now 12:57. I have plenty of time to continue this relaxing getaway.

Survival Instincts

From a young age you always hear the phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, and more often than not people will say this to you as a piece of ‘much required’ wisdom.  As much as I accept this phrase about not holding prejudice based on someone’s outward appearance, I do slightly disagree.

Judgment is an inherent quality that our brain feeds with experience. We have established this instinct for survival; the judgments we make are what permit, or prohibit, things to get close to the core of our lives. Moving to a new country, I found myself surrounded with the unknown in things as simple as a phone shop. I spent the first month making choices purely based off harsh judgment and gut feeling.  There were the initial times of pharmaceutical and grocery shopping, I would walk an extra block to shop at a chain-store over a cheapened corner shop. When I was flat hunting, as simply as talking to a person over the phone, I would judge the landlord on the language they used, and immediately accept or decline the idea. For all I know these are the simple judgements that have extended my life, or have caused me to miss out on opportunities.

So what happens when you take a leap of faith and do leave things up to chance? Once I was settled within a house, had a group of friends, and had all standard life requirements organised, I went through a phase of doing spontaneous adventures; going outside of my comfort zone with relation to cafes, experiences and stores. I think the key point here is that because I was successfully living, not only attempting to adapt and survive to this new environment, I didn’t need that safety net of judging everything as heavily as I once had. I remember phone calls home, discussing this exact topic with my parents.  There comes a point where after the judging and hard work has been done, you do need to loosen the reigns of planning, and live life day by day, decision by decision. Sometimes there are positive consequences to veering away from that planned path of judging things critically. This way of living, or leaving life to serendipity, is what makes for a more rounded life. You come across things you may have never knew existed, you may meet people who are destined to be in your life, or find a new passion.

Judgement is something that is I believe to be socially acceptable when you feel that your life or well-being is at risk. I think that we need to make decisions for ourselves based off our intuitions and personal judgements; ultimately we have to live with our own decisions and choices, so we need to be satisfied with them. Nevertheless, don’t forget to give things a chance; we need judgement to survive, but we need spontaneity to live.

March

I have been pretty lacking in the ideas department for this weeks blog.

I have decided to just post a quick overview of the first half of March in photos.

See more at https://instagram.com/paigebolland/

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Location

“The more often we see the things around us – even the beautiful and wonderful things – the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: because we see things so often, we see them less and less.” – 

I find it intriguing how a different location can change your perspective in a situation.

If I were walking somewhere in my hometown of New Zealand, I would typically be staring at the ground, marching along, only hoping to get to my destination sooner than physically possible. However, being in this new country constantly surrounded by new things, I find myself in tourist mode taking mental photographs of everything; from fence detailing to sky-high buildings.

Today I had a complete day to myself so I decided to venture to see the much anticipated Tower Bridge. However, firstly I wanted to see the Tower bridge from the London Bridge parallel, then head along the Thames Walkway to extend the sightseeing. Along this length of riverside path every person I passed (whom obviously was not a tourist) looked bored. It bewildered me how someone who lives in such a beautiful and iconic place could just look at their phone screens or the ground.

That’s when I remembered Joseph B. Wirthlin’s fantastically accurate quote.

Do we really see so much beauty that we become blind to it?I think as time goes on, especially when you are settled within the same scenery for a length of time, you don’t exactly become blind to it, it just becomes monotonous. There are two ways of looking at this fact, this could be a negative thing; that we become ignorant and ungrateful to this beauty, or perhaps this is a thing to applaud about human psychology.

What would we do if boredom never existed? We would be happy without weariness for sure, but we would never have the motivation to go venture outside of our borders. The world is a beautiful place: full of 196 contrasting countries that are there to be explored. We need boredom to set our ambition dial on full.

With every year from about the age of 15, I became more and more uninterested in my surroundings. Leading into my gap year I found myself getting to the point of just wanting to drive somewhere out of town; for the sake of how bored I was with the same routine of seeing the same things every day. This lack of enthusiasm towards New Zealand was what got me to where I am now. And don’t get me wrong, I will forever appreciate what my parents have given me and my brothers — our home is a beautiful place, possibly the best home I could ever imagine growing up in — but we all eventually become blind to continuous beauty and it is human psychology to always want what we don’t have.

In the weeks leading up to my departure I did become more aware of the beauty in my neighbourhood. When I truly realized and accepted that I was to be leaving everything I had ever known, my love for the views escalated and I saw in more detail how beautiful the Kapiti Coast is; I was and still am so lucky to have been given a home there.

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Blogging

Blogging has never seemed like something I would do out of freewill.

The commitment, the typing, the endless mind-blanks of what to write about… but being someone who loves to write, and has decided to venture out into the world alone, it seems like a good idea. This blog will be a decent and easy way to connect with people I meet, and a way for my faraway family and friends to follow my journey in a literary sense rather than photography (Instagram – @paigebolland).

When I was younger, in fact from an age I cannot pinpoint, I was fascinated and intrigued by novels about diary keeping. Mia in The Princess Diaries was a favourite; her interesting adventures in day to day life, and in particular her quirky ways of safe keeping a memory, sparked an interest. At a young age I became a dedicated bookworm and in turn I used my book affairs to inspire my own creative stories. I remember taking so much pride in my page-long workings — prancing around the school begging my teachers to read the story, hoping to receive a shiny new sticker at the top of the page. Throughout high school, I found this creativeness and pride disappear. Creativity became something that no longer could be out of the box, it had to fit between the lines. This was something I extremely hated about school, and what saddens me the most, it made me lose my love for being clever with words and writing for pure joy.

After a year of being finished with school, and having the choice of what to do with my life, I found small things I’d lost from being in a classroom come back. For example, motivation. Motivation was lost for me, yes small hints were there, but my true motivation to live for myself came back after graduating. 2014 welcomed the dream of moving to England. This motivated me to work hard and save my money even harder; it got me to where I am now – London. From a small New Zealand town, it is more than an adventure to be almost 100% settled in such a beautifully busy city that is so new and out of my comfort zone. Today is day 5 in the UK, and out of those days I have had 1 day of being a tourist. What a day that was. With an early start, and I mean early I was able to make the most of the limited hours of daylight and go see a few, of the million and one, things I have always daydreamed about being on my back doorstep. To see the things I saw, you will have to see my Instagram, but things that I couldn’t capture within those photos was my constant smiling, my opinions and my being in awe. Being alone can seem like a sad situation to an outsider, but to me it is perfection. Thinking about yesterday, I got lost more than I could count on my fingers, but I enjoyed being a small dot within the map. In such a well organised and busy city you are never lost for long, you soon find your way back to the trail you were planning to follow. Soon enough I was listening to Big Ben ring on the hour – this really brought me into the moment, there is nothing like a sudden realization that you’re standing on the footpath looking up and listening to something you have dreamed about seeing for years. The realization that I did it. I got myself there. And to realize this, made me appreciate the moment more than I ever thought I could. I then continued, with a beaming grin across my face, along my spiral path through Westminster. I saw more breeds of swan than I thought possible in St James’ Park, I grinned like a cheese in front of Buckingham Palace to pose for a photo, I cycled through Hyde Park on a Barclay’s, and I went shopping on Oxford Street. Even sitting here now, I still can’t believe that these globally known places, are within a 10 minute tube ride from my new home! I don’t know if I will ever not appreciate this city as much as I do right now.

I guess now, after my endless worded rant, and now that I am in a point in my life where I have my own exciting stories, I want to be like Mia. I want to inspire someone. Not necessarily spark an interest in writing, but inspire someone to say yes to more things in life; to do things that make them happy, but more importantly to venture out into the world. This world is amazing, and if you don’t travel, it’s like reading only the cover of a book and missing all the gloriously written pages in between. Whether you write about your own experiences, take photos of things you see, or whether you prefer to just soak it all in as you live in the moment – just do what makes you happy. Just say yes.

The day you start living for yourself, the more you end up living for.